DUBAI : Gunfire erupted in a town in Saudi Arabia after police sealed it off with armoured vehicles, a resident said.

Awamiya, near Dammam on the Gulf coast, has been the scene of repeated incidents since protests by a community began in 2011.

"It was seen in all Awamiya," he said after black armoured vehicles sealed off the area. He added that he heard heavy, periodic gunfire but could not see who was shooting. "Saudi forces raided Awamiya, some farms," he told AFP.

On its Twitter account, the interior ministry said it carried out an operation "to search a suspicious agricultural area in Awamiya."

A large amount of ammunition was seized, it added.

In April, the ministry said a policeman died in a gunfight with "terrorists" in Awamiya.

That followed the arrest there in January of one of 23 people on a wanted list issued after the earlier protests and violence in Eastern Province.

Many others on the list had been already detained or killed in shootouts.

The Berlin-based European Saudi Organisation for Human Rights said Tuesday that a second youth, Dawoud al-Marhoon, has, like Ali Al-Nimr, exhausted all court appeals of his death sentence.